Social Networks and Japanese Democracy: The Beneficial Impact of Interpersonal Communication

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Social Networks and Japanese Democracy: The Beneficial Impact of Interpersonal Communication in East Asia
By Ken'ichi Ikeda,Sean Richey
Routledge, 2011
176 pp. $130.00
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Ikeda and Richey aim to determine whether Confucian values in Japan -- such as obedience to hierarchy and a preference for social harmony over debate -- dampen the positive effects of civic engagement on Japanese democracy. Analyzing data from surveys of Japanese voters conducted between 2001 and 2005, they find that the legacy of Confucianism generally does not prevent civic engagement (defined as participation in informal networks) from producing positive democratic effects in Japan. However, they also concede that Japan is less influenced by Confucian values than other Asian countries, where those values might interfere more with democratic governance. The book contains ten short chapters, many of which present regression tables using the same or similar independent variables. The authors, however, have chosen to write a new chapter for every new set of dependent variables -- political engagement, political knowledge, policy preferences, and political tolerance, among others. And each chapter reviews the existing scholarly literature, methods, variables, and regression results. As a consequence, the book is short but nonetheless repetitive.

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